With glorious sunshine and temperatures in the high twenties this weekend, sky-watching came up trumps!
Late morning on Sunday a red kite was picked up heading west over RSPB West Canvey Marsh. While 15 minutes later at Wat Tyler Country Park, while looking for the kite a honey buzzard flew in from Holehaven Creek, Canvey direction and headed straight out across RSPB Vange Wick in a north westerly direction. This more than compensated for not seeing the red kite! Also a large peregrine falcon almost certainly a female was seen hunting over Vange Wick, watched from Wat Tyler Country Park. A common buzzard, hobby and sparrowhawk were also seen, and it didn't end there as a second honey buzzard drifted over Wat Tyler Country Park mid afternoon having been seen 10 minutes earlier over Hadleigh Downs. A real red letter raptor day with seven different species seen including kestrel.
Also seen at Wat Tyler were two cetti's warblers, turtle doves and a mediterranean gull. At West Canvey Marsh the warm sunshine tempted many butterflies to the wing, the highlights were, 2 wall, 4 small heath and a small copper.
Our blue tit chicks are now 18 days old, they now look just like their parents. Blue tits tend to fledge and leave their nestbox between 18-21 days after hatching. Our blue tit parents have worked so hard raising eleven, I'll repeat that ELEVEN hungry chicks!
Come along to the RSPB visitor centre at Wat Tyler Country Park, the centre is open daily 10 am - 5 pm and see the growing family live on our TV screens. Who knows you may even witness them leaving the box!
Blue tit chicks at Wat Tyler - images by David Lee
A taste of the Mediterranean at RSPB West Canvey Marsh today, with warm sunshine and a woodchat shrike. The shrike was found mid morning by a couple visiting this new RSPB reserve, and identified late morning by RSPB staff. Woodchat shrike is an annual vagrant to the UK, this striking bird will perch prominently on top of hedges, trees and fences regularly dropping to the ground to feed. It's prey is mainly insects, beetles, damsel flies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, wasps and bees. During the last ten years woodchat shrike has been recorded on only ten occasions in Essex. In bright sunlight the Canvey visitor displayed a black forehead, a broad patch around each eye contrasted with a fiery chestnut-red hood on the rear crown and upper mantle. While oval shoulder patches provided further distinctive field marks.
Woodchat Shrike at West Canvey Marsh by Tony Coombs